Hospitals move to reduce rising water costs

The rising costs of water and sewage services create new headaches for hospital administrators, Hospitals & Health Networks reports.

Residential rates for major users of water services climbed an average of 7 percent in 2014, with the hikes reaching double digits in some regions. Drought has exacerbated the problem by driving prices still higher in some areas, according to the article, but in other cases the cause is more mundane.

"A lot of it is just based on infrastructure problems, where you have aging pipes in the ground," Mike Reid, vice president of construction, capital and facility services for the group purchasing organization Amerinet, told H&HN.

For example, at UCLA Health, drought and infrastructure upgrades have led to 5 percent increases in water rates over the past few years, according to the article. Rates aren't yet high enough for big savings potential if the hospital adopts new conservation tactics, but the system is still developing methods of reducing its water consumption for the community benefit. "Our goal is reducing the use of a valuable state and national resource," said Val Padilla, director of facilities.

Seattle's Virginia Mason Medical Center saved more than six million gallons of water per year by making several conservation changes, FierceHealthcare previously reported. The organization upgraded the linear accelerator it used for radiation therapy, bought high-efficiency dishwashers and replaced bathroom toilets, faucets and showers. 

Efforts at conservation in the healthcare sector are also driven by the threat of climate change. For example, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital installed triple-glazed windows in place of perimeter heating in patient rooms. Implementing U.S. Department of Energy guidelines on retrofitting are also yielding significant savings to offset hospital budget constraints, with the guidelines projecting providers could save more than 30 percent on annual energy costs.

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